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HDMI 1.4, the latest version of HDMI, has added these features from the previous version:
- Ethernet Channel That Supports 100 Mbit/s (HEC)
- 4K x 2K Resolution (i.e. 3840 × 2160p)
- 3D Support
- Audio Return Channel
HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) has gone under many revisions over the last decade. It is hard to believe that the HDMI founders (a group of large electronics manufacturers) started producing HDMI products as long ago as 2002, and they have made many innovations to the connector ever since, leading up to the current HDMI 1.4. Althought the 19-pin HDMI connector hasn’t changed, much of what is transmitted through those pins has changed dramatically.
What HDMI v1.4 Can Do
HDMI v1.4 is the newest of a long line of HDMI versions. The HDMI Organization decided to make it off limits for HDMI companies to advertise products using the version number (v1.4) to deter retailers labelling items as v1.4 if they only fulfilled one or a few of the four new major improvements. For instance, it was feared that retailers would label their HDMI cable “v1.4” even if it only had an Ethernet channel but did not support 4K x 2K resolutions.
Along with retaining v1.3’s new improvements to the standard, which includes Deep Color support, Auto audio sync, support for Dolby and DTS Digital Audio, and a few other things, v1.4 adds the following:
1. Ethernet Channel (HEC): The new ethernet channel included in HDMI 1.4 is meant to support HDTVs that have internet capabilities. Many newer HDTVs these days have apps that allow you to view content from providers such as Hulu and Netflix, check your social media, as well as basic internet utilities such as a browser and email. Allowing the ethernet to travel through the cables allows you to forgo connecting another ethernet line to your TV from your router.
2. 4K x 2K Resolution: 4000 x 2000 pixel resolutions seem like a thing of the future as it is a far larger resolution than 1080p, but many TVs are already out that support this newer resolution. Computers have been supporting this resolution for many years already. Typically you wouldn’t need this large of a resolution unless you were viewing a TV that is larger than around 60 inches. Anything smaller and you are likely not to detect a difference betwenn 4Kx2K and 1080p.
3. 3D Support: Although some cables and devices that are labelled HDMI 1.3 can support 3D, all HDMI 1.4 products and devices support all forms of 3D in 1080p.
4. Audio Return Channel: This is crucial if you are using an audio receiver. Often, people have to run a separate audio cable back from their TV to their audio receiver depending on their set-up. Before, HDMI cables were unable to send this audio ‘upstream’ to the receiver, but HDMI 1.4 allows that to be done.
HDMI 1.4 Products
Here are a few products we’d like to highlight that you might be interested in as you adopt the new HDMI 1.4 standard.
HDMI 1.4 Splitter:
If you have one HDMI 1.4 source and more than one HDMI TV, you will want to get a splitter. This will send the same audio video to all TVs simultaneously. This is often used in commercial situations such as restaurants, malls, bars, and campuses.
HDMI 1.4 Switch:
If you have one HDTV and more than one HDMI 1.4 source, you will need a way to switch between which source is sending audio/video to your HDTV. Most HDTVs have a built-in switch which is why most HDTVs have multiple HDMI ports. If you run out of ports however, you will need to buy an external HDMI 1.4 switch.
HDMI 1.4 Matrix:
There are situations when you might have more than one source and more than one TV, and you want to be able to easily choose which source is sending which content to which TV. In this case you will want a matrix, and they often come in 4x2, 4x4, etc. (four TVs to two sources, four TVs to four sources, etc.).